Chaos Creates Bumper Crop of Petition Candidates
The ballot imbroglio that has caused more than 180 candidates to be booted from party primaries is particularly acute in Lexington County.
In any given election cycle, there may only be a handful of petition candidates in South Carolina who are able to get on the general election ballot. Of those, few (if any) ever win.
The obstacles of getting on the ballot as a petition candidate are numerous, as this article in The State points out.
And this year, an inordinate amount of candidates will be seeking this route to the ballot, whose main requirement is that the candidate must procure the signatures of at least five percent of the registered voters in the district, county, or municipality their intended office serves. And they need to do so by July 16.
A state Supreme Court ruling earlier this month booted more than 180 Republican and Democratic candidates off the June 12 party primary ballot after they failed to properly file Statement of Economic Interest forms and subsequently were improperly certified as candidates by their respective parties.
As a result, candidates from Lexington County have been hit inordinately hard -- 13 Republicans and one Democrat have been removed from the primary ballot. Barring some sort of miracle, any chances they have at running will be through the petition process, placing them on the Nov. 6 general election ballot as independent candidates without any official party backing.
About 10 petition candidates make the ballot each year statewide, The State's report said. So far, nearly that many in Lexington County alone have inquired about running as petition candidates or have vowed to do so and are actively seeking signatures.
In addition to Republican Katrina Shealy, who has vowed to petition to run against incumbent state GOP Sen. Jake Knotts in District 23, the county's clerk of court race alone could see two petition candidates —- Suzanne Moore and Tommy Windsor.
Even if those candidates, and others, are successful at getting on the ballot in November, their chances at winning would seem relatively slim, the paper reported. Excluding municipal races, Lexington County has had two petition candidates since 2004. Brad Matthews won a County Council seat in 2010 in a petition race, according to Lexington elections director Dean Crepes.
"Statewide, political experts cite former state Rep. James “Bubba” Cromer as the last major candidate to wage a successful petition campaign, winning a Richland County House seat in the 1990s. (Strom Thurmond was a true write-in candidate when he won a U.S. Senate seat in 1954.)," the paper said.
But a bright spot for these candidates could be the attention and passion the ballot mess has created.
“It’s much, much harder to win from a petition,” Clemson political science professor David Woodard told The State. “(But) they might be able to create a little more interest from what’s happened this month.”